Today, March 1st, is Self-Injury Awareness Day. I think it’s so important to help get more compassionate information and resources out there about self-harm–not just today, but every day. So many people self-harm in secret, and suffer in great emotional pain, often feeling shame about it.
For me, self-harm was one of the only ways I could survive and keep enduring the abuse I was living with at home–incest and ritual abuse–from a young age. It is also something I was taught by my abuser to keep myself quiet–but that’s not common. What is common is using self-harm to cope with great emotional distress. I used cutting to keep from killing myself, to lessen overwhelming emotional pain, to shut down horrific abuse memories, to silence myself, to punish myself, and many other reasons.
One of the most helpful things for me in stopping self-harming was to learn to love myself, and to realize that I didn’t deserve to be hurt, not even by myself, despite what my abusers had taught me. It was also so important for me to be around safe, kind people who gave me compassion and support and helped me work through some of the abuse. And to find out that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t the only one who’d cut to cope. Those things, especially, helped me to stop cutting.
I hope you’ll read and share my Reasons Not To Hurt Yourself. I wrote it with everything I needed to hear and know to help stop cutting.
You might also want to read my novel SCARS. Although it’s fiction, I put a lot of my own experiences into the novel. It’s actually my own arms on the cover. I’ve heard from many, many readers that it helped them feel less alone, or talk to someone for the first time about their self-harm, or get help, or even keep from killing themselves. (Though please also take care when reading it, as, like anything that discusses self-harm in an honest way, it may be triggering and bring up your own emotion.) And I’ve heard from many other readers who haven’t used self-harm or hadn’t known anyone who had, that it helped them understand self-harm more, and judge it less. Both are exactly what I wanted to have happen!
There shouldn’t be silence or shame about self-harm. What there should be is compassion.